As the snacking trend continues, new research from Packaged Facts indicates Americans love nutritional bars as a portable, healthy snack option.

According to the study, Nutritional and Cereal Bars in the US, 4th Edition, bars provide an attractive way for food marketers to offer bold, exciting flavors as well as superfoods and other functional ingredients targeting specific health concerns such as a desire or need for food to be gluten-free. Nutritional bars are also great ways for manufacturers to focus on ingredients consumers crave and search for such as ancient grains and healthy seeds, including quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, chia and flaxseed.

According to the report, the psychographic profile of high-volume users of nutritional bars indicates that marketers of these products will continue to be on target with advertising campaigns geared toward fitness and outdoor activities.

An emerging trend highlighted in Nutritional and Cereal Bars in the U.S., 4th Edition is that consumers engaged in sports and fitness activities are starting to shy away from sweet flavors and are increasingly being drawn to savory snacks. Packaged Facts said these savory bars provide flavor options for different times of the day, reflecting the fact that consumers often look to sweet flavors earlier in the day and savory flavors later in the day.

The shift toward savory nutritional bars has increased the popularity of bars that offer meat as a protein source.  Nutritional bars now on the market include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, spinach, quinoa, cauliflower, lentils, bell pepper and basil.

However, savory bars will face the most difficulties as manufacturers need to overcome perceptions about snack bars and sweet flavors in addition to these bars lacking traditional sweeteners used as binding agents.

 More on the report can be found here